People who consider themselves workaholics might recognize that their work-life balance is disproportionate, but come up short with solutions. Often, those people feel too stressed to adequately enjoy quality time with their friends or families. They may even feel guilty when they do non-work-related activities, feeling preoccupied with emails that are piling up or a project with an approaching due date that needs their attention.
Brené Brown was interviewed in this Washington Post article, and she explained this concept further:
“One of the things that I found [in her research] was the importance of rest and play, and the willingness to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth. A lot of people told me that when they put their work away and when they try to be still and be with family, sometimes they feel like they’re coming out of their skins. They’re thinking of everything they’re not doing, and they’re not used to that pace. So when we make the transition from crazy-busy to rest, we have to find out what comforts us, what really refuels us, and do that. We deserve to not just put work away and be in service of someone else. What’s really meaningful for us? What do we want to be doing? That happens not just in work culture, I see it even with teenagers who now have four and five hours of homework and go to bed at one in the morning. We don’t know who we are without productivity as a metric of our worth. We don’t know what we enjoy, and we lose track of how tired we are.”
To practice self-care and establish an appropriate work-life balance, setting boundaries might be necessary. Brené Brown said:
“We have to encourage people to set boundaries around their work and respect them when they hold them. And I think as leaders we have to model that. One thing that I tell people all the time is, I’m not going to answer a call from you after nine o’clock at night or before nine o’clock in the morning unless it’s an emergency. To me, a leader is someone who holds her- or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes. And so what I think is really important is sustainability. If it’s crunch time and from Tuesday morning through Wednesday night all bets are off, then there should be some real boundary holding Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. When people just don’t make themselves available, I think it’s healthy, and I think it’s smart.”
It’s great to be devoted to your job (or, if you're a student, to school), and it’s even better to consistently make efforts to do your best. We all need our jobs: we have bills to pay and mouths to feed! But if you’ve been feeling like your job has infected the rest of your life, do yourself (and your loved ones) a favor by taking a step back and setting some healthy boundaries.
Since setting boundaries is much easier said than done, here are some good reads with solid tips on how to do this:
- Setting Boundaries at Work
- 7 Ways to Advocate for Yourself at Work
- How to Advocate for Yourself in High School
- 10 Steps to Being an Effective Self Advocate
--Kirsten Dalquist, MSSW Intern